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“In a Pickle” New Pickleball Court Excites Students on Hilton Head

Updated: Jul 21, 2022

The fastest growing sport in America is now available to the students at Hilton Head Island Elementary School for the Creative Arts thanks to the creativity and passion of their technology teacher, Jennifer Friend-Kerr, and a grant awarded by the Foundation for Educational Excellence.

The more than 500 students in first through fifth grades can now join the other 4.8 million Americans enjoying the fast paced sport of pickleball on the school’s brand new pickleball court. Not to mention, the students at HHISCA for years to come will continue to use the courts located on the school’s outdoor fitness trail.

“Through the grant activities, students gained a lot of insight and knowledge about the history of pickleball, scoring, measurement conversions, calculating area and comparing percentages of a standard court with the court at Hilton Head Island Elementary School for the Creative Arts,” explained Friend-Kerr, Technology teacher and former tennis professional.

Students also learned about the figurative language of idioms, specifically, “In A Pickle.” They learned the literal term versus the figurative term. HHISCA was “in a pickle” because the area of the existing cement slab used to construct the proposed pickleball court was smaller than a standard pickleball court.

“Through this project, I was able to teach students not only about pickleball,” explained Friend-Kerr, “but also about digital literacy, geometry and measurement in relation to the construction of the court.

The students had to measure the designated space effectively in order to convert the measurements to scale. This required the students to collaborate and compare a standard pickleball court to the future school court to find the percentage difference between the two. The students discovered that the school’s pickleball court was 32 percent smaller than a standard pickleball court after physically measuring the court dimensions prior to construction.

As the students in fourth and fifth grade participated in the calculation needed to construct the proper sized court, their excitement about playing pickleball grew. They learned how to research, take notes and measure a larger distance using a tape measure - making this project an application of “authentic learning.”

During the court preparation process, students also learned about writing and digitally creating "Infographics" about pickleball as they conducted research on the sport. Students exercised their graphic design skills as they created "infographics" visually demonstrating the history of pickleball that they learned through their research.

In addition, all of the students designed pickleball courts using Legos to understand the dimensions of a court on a different scale while implementing the engineering and design process.

The students were also able to witness firsthand that all projects have phases that need to be done in a specific, sequential order to be completed effectively. The pickleball court took about 6 months to complete and included several steps that required ideal weather conditions in order to properly accomplish. The existing concrete square needed to be pressure washed and painted before the courts were ready for the pickleball court lines to be added and the net set up.

In addition to all of the academic and practical lessons learned through this project, the students will continue to receive the ongoing benefit of physical fitness as they play pickleball on the new court for years to come.


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